Project Canterbury

A Tractarian at Work: A Memoir of Dean Randall

By J. F. Briscoe and H. F. B. Mackay

London: Mowbray, [1932]

Chapter X.All Saints', Clifton (III)


IT would have been impossible to set out the true importance of Randall's work as Vicar of All Saints' without reference to his relation to the ritual controversies of the time. It is a pleasanter task to make some record of the spiritual activities he directed in the parish and from time to time elsewhere.

In 1869 Randall inaugurated the custom--always carried on since--of asking some of the best-known preachers of the day to address the congregation of All Saints' during the octave of the patronal feast.

Each preacher for these occasions was requested to give an evening sermon on a particular phase of a general subject chosen by Randall, and an address to communicants between the two early Celebrations on the following morning, also part of an ordered plan. Stuckey Coles described Randall's way of arranging the matter. The preacher, having agreed to come, was told what his subject would be, and a list of books to be studied, often by French authors, was added. The preacher having arrived at Clifton, Mr. Randall would take him for a walk, and further sketch out the details of his sermon for him.

In 1878 the subject was 'The Glory of Christ in His Saints,' illustrated by the group of figures in the east window. There were twenty sermons and thirteen preachers, including the Vicar himself, and among them were Mr. Stuckey Coles of Shepton-Beauchamp, Mr. W. H. Hutchings, Mr. C. Bodington, Mr. W. H. Cleaver, Mr. E. Field, Canon Furse, Father Puller, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Hanbury-Tracy, and Mr. Knox Little.

The festival was prepared for by a pastoral letter to the people of the parish, and Randall would send copies of this letter to his friends, in one case suggesting to Bishop Woodford of Ely that he might take some hints from it for an episcopal charge.

The cause of the Catholic Revival was greatly helped by these festivals of beautiful services and inspiring sermons. Whole families would come up year by year from the spiritual wilds of the West Country and South Wales, and settle round All Saints' that they might hear day by day some of the greatest preachers of the time, and share in Catholic worship.

In 1874 Mrs. Randall was away from home for the festival, and Randall wrote her this account of it:

In the church all has gone on well. The sermons have been very good and striking. On the first night Gurney's showed most remarkable theological power for so young a man. There were many moving passages in Mr. Churton's sermon, but it dealt with the troubles in the Church in a way that did not quite recommend itself to me. In the evening we had a glorious sermon from Fr. Benson, full of unction and earnestness, and as full of close and careful reasoning. One could not but be thankful that some 1,200 persons were gathered there to listen to such teaching. All Saints' Day was one really brim full of happiness to me, nearly 400 communicants, nearly every one, out of a very large congregation, staying to the High Celebration, the children answering capitally at their catechizing, and at evening the church crammed, the passages full, and people sitting on hassocks.

On Monday we had a fair address from Fr. Benson to communicants, and a grand and practical sermon from Stuckey Coles on the Sanctification of the Body.

We have from 60 to 90 communicants of a morning. Stuckey Coles gave a very good address this morning. He is so good a fellow, and has such a bright and Christian geniality about him. King has just arrived. But only fancy Furse has telegraphed to say that he is too ill to come for to-morrow's subject which is the hardest in the whole course! I began to think that I should have to take it, but that good man Stuckey Coles has promised to take it.

Three days later he wrote again:

All the Sermons have been remarkable, and such very full notes have been taken of them that I hope you will be able to read them. Mr. Butler's seemed to be very good, but it was so loud that I could not attend to it, as to some others. His address to communicants was very quiet and good. Yesterday the Mathers had luncheon with us, and Archdeacon Denison arrived while they were here, and amused them very much. In the evening Canon Ashwell preached a striking and useful sermon, and Mr. White was here. At night we had a most interesting conversation about an address that there is some thought of putting out to remove misunderstandings about the Teaching of Churchmen. I was so glad that Ashwell and Denison were brought to agree thoroughly together.

This morning Ashwell gave us a thoughtful and devout Address, and Body preached a magnificent Sermon on Suffering, and said much about the sufferings of the Church, and of ourselves for the Church. It is impossible to give you any idea of it, but it moved people much, and will do great good, I hope. This afternoon I've had a good deal of talk with Body, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Gurney, and a walk on the Downs. . . .

I think the people here appreciated the Octave very much.

No part of Randall's work at All Saints' was more admirable than his catechizing of the children on Sunday afternoons. A multitude of children, mainly of what are called the upper classes, would nearly fill the nave on these occasions, while there would be many older people in the aisles and at the back of the church. The children themselves were enthusiastic about these services. It was the great joy of the week for them to be there and answer well, and so 'earn a story.' Randall knew all their names. This is a description by one who herself attended for ten years.

As children we always looked forward to the catechizing, and the great ambition of ourselves and friends used to be to secure the outside places in the front row near the central passage; and if we saw others coming we used to race to the church door in order to secure the coveted places for ourselves. These particular places we considered the most advantageous for answering, as we were nearer the catechist. We were always ready with hands up to answer the questions, which we girls thought he too often asked the boys (especially the choir boys), and then would tell us the girls did not know half as much as the boys, when all the time we did know the answers and were ready and eager to give them, had we had the chance. In catechizing Mr. Randall never remained in one place, but walked up and down the central passage and from side to side in front of the girls or boys. His manner was bright, animated, and interesting. In a moment he would notice if our attention was flagging, and if he asked a question to which he thought he ought to get the right answer, and he did not get it, his voice would ring through the church, 'Stand up, stand up, children; you are not attending!' and the question would be repeated and the right answer given. We were constantly helped to keep at attention by change of position, and by the pitting of the girls and the boys against each other. If he failed to get an answer from the boys, he would say: 'Then I must go and see if the girls can tell you,' and vice versa. The Seasons of the Church as they came round were always the subjects of the catechizing; in the Autumn, when the preparation for Confirmation was going on, the catechizing would be on the Sacraments. He told us many stories in illustration of the catechizings, but sometimes if the answering had not been what he considered up to the mark, he would say,' I had a story to tell you to-day, but the answering has not been good enough.' During the All Saints' Octave 'the Saints' was the subject. The actual service was short; it began with the lesser Litany, the Lord's Prayer, a Hymn, the Creed. After the catechizing there was another Hymn, Collects, and the Blessing. If there was a Baptism, it was after the Creed. We were encouraged to give money for various objects in the church.

The children of the catechism gave the Angel Window, a very long and exceedingly narrow lancet window, the painted glass in which represents Jacob's ladder.

'We began at once,' wrote Randall himself, in a description of the early time of his vicariate, 'with the daily Morning and Evening Prayer ordered in the Prayer Book, with a daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and with two celebrations on Sundays and on all Saints' Days.' Thus from the first the daily Mass was a very conspicuous feature of the spiritual life which centred at All Saints'. Randall at the altar was a model of recollection and devotion. He said his Mass very slowly, and it used to be remarked that the words heard most distinctly were the words of the Latin Missal which he used for his private prayers. He was a leader in the plan of inserting such private devotions into the Prayer Book Office, which otherwise he rigidly adhered to. Early in his vicariate at Clifton, Randall got his curates together armed with Latin Missals, and they decided what parts of the Missal should form the private devotions of the celebrant. These were cut out and bound up with the English rite in red morocco.

The pulpit at All Saints' was only less important than the altar. The acoustic properties of the church were very bad, and in fact there were two pulpits, one set against the north wall of the choir arch, and another placed two bays west of it, against a pillar of the nave. This last was a plain modern pulpit, bought second-hand, and John Wesley had preached in it.

Randall was one of the greatest preachers of his time. He was among the preachers of the series of Lenten sermons arranged by Bishop Wilberforce and delivered at S. Mary's and S. Giles' churches in Oxford in the years preceding 1869. He was 'select Preacher' at Oxford in 1892-94. His sermons were very carefully prepared. Long ago at Lavington an entry in his diary recorded that for a single sermon he had consulted S. Leo, S. Thomas, S. Bonaventura, S. Augustine, Cornelius a Lapide, and Bishop Pearson. Another entry noted the purchase on a visit to London of the works of S. Thomas Aquinas, S. Bernard, S. Anselm, Pineda, Lerinus, Le Brun, Bellarmine. He had an excellent library, and was able, therefore, to use in his sermons wide knowledge won from books as well as the knowledge of men and of affairs he had gained from intimate association with many famous people. It was as a 'popular preacher' that Randall excelled: crowds of the citizens of Bristol came to listen to his Sunday evening sermons, and many Dissenters became members of the Church as a result of the teaching he gave them on these occasions. He was a familiar figure at Church Congresses, where his militant and powerful speeches made a great impression. Dr. Lacey used to describe how he was howled down at the Congress of 1871 for his criticisms of the Purchas Judgement. In early years at Lavington Bishop Wilberforce invited Randall to take part in the missions which he organized from time to time in various districts of the Diocese of Oxford. Thus in 1861 there was a central mission at Banbury, with sermons preached by chosen missioners, of whom Randall was one, in Banbury and in adjoining parishes. In 1875 Randall preached a mission at S. Barnabas', Oxford, and sent the following account of it to his wife:

I have been at work almost incessantly, except at meal times, since I left home. The Mission has been so blest that it is to be carried on over next Sunday, but Mr. Coles will stay here, and I shall come home on Tuesday (to-morrow), and reach Bristol, I hope, at 6 p.m. I have promised, if it be possible, to come back for Sunday to take the two final Sermons. Last night the Church was crammed, and the congregation was much moved. A large number have come to Confession, and more are coming every day. People have been to Church who never entered it before. The Mission began with Litany and Hymns in the Cathedral. The Bishop preached an earnest, simple sermon. The Cathedral was nearly full, and both low churchmen and high churchmen were side by side. Lin ton and I sung out of the same Hymn Book. On Saturday night after Evensong, I addressed the lay helpers. On Sunday we had 4 celebrations, and I preached twice, and catechized, and Coles gave two Instructions. On all the other days I have preached once, catechized, and given one, sometimes two, instructions. The people are very attentive and are deeply impressed.

On two days Coles preached in the streets and worst courts of the parish. He went with the choir, and they sung hymns, and then he gave a short sermon of 5 minutes at some 5 different places. He did this also on Saturday. Every day we have had 4 celebrations.

The children's Service is most interesting. The Church is nearly full for this on weekdays, and on Sundays quite full. The children sing most lustily. I wish we could get ours to do anything like it. They also answer very well. I took them through the Creed, and told them several stories, two or three each day. It is the most delightful thing to see Noel with his people. [Vicar of S. Barnabas', 1869-99.] They are all so fond of him, and so entirely at home with him. Wherever you go through Oxford he meets people at every dozen yards or so who give him a friendly greeting. And then the people evidently love their Church so intensely and enjoy it.

The Celebrations at the side Altar with the congregation gathered close round you are simply real religious enjoyment. I am afraid all this will spoil me for All Saints'.

To-night Coles begins a course of Sermons to last for the rest of the week. His Instructions have been very good. I heard part of two Addresses to men by Canon Furse, which were good. I dare say that you have all remembered me. Certainly help has come in answer to some one's prayers.

Missions were preached at All Saints' in 1871 by Mr. Bennett, Vicar of Frome, and Mr. Cleaver, Vicar of S. Mary Magdalene, Paddington; and in 1877 by Mr. Villiers, Vicar of Adisham, [Afterwards Vicar of S. Paul's, Knightsbridge.] and Mr. Stuckey Coles.

In 1890 Randall published a volume of Addresses and Meditations for a Retreat, and in the preface he made a very interesting record of his own experience of retreats. In this preface is to be found the very impressive account of the one retreat conducted by Dr. Liddon, which is reprinted in Dr. Liddon's Life. Here is described the famous retreat conducted by Bishop Wilberforce at Cuddesdon.

The whole retreat was itself one of the most remarkable instances of his most remarkable powers. He had been intending to go into retreat himself, as he did nearly every year, with many of the clergy of his diocese, but he was unexpectedly called upon at less than a day's notice to conduct the retreat himself.

Here is the story of the retreat at Little Langford which Randall himself conducted, attended by Bishop Hamilton of Salisbury, and many of the clergy of his diocese. Randall writes of the Bishop: 'Devout and reverent, he was a pattern of devotion for us all.' The whole arrangement of the retreat was left to the conductor, with the single exception that the Bishop desired the long exhortation to communicants to be read at the Eucharist each day. 'The sacred dignity of his office sat upon him with an easy, natural--perhaps it would be more true to say with supernatural grace. But there was a charm, and attractiveness, and frankness of brotherhood which made all the clergy feel that he was one with them.'

Retreats were often held at All Saints'. As early as 1877 Mr. Stuckey Coles conducted a retreat for men on a day of Lent, and a retreat of three days for women.

The following letter Randall wrote to his wife before beginning a retreat at S. Augustine's College, Canterbury, in 1876:

I must write you one line before I begin the work here. I know you will pray earnestly for me, dearest. It is such hard work this time, for I seem to be myself so far off from God. Yet I know that these Priests are His, and so I hope He will speak to them, and that I shall not mar His Voice. It may be that some of its sounds may reach me. There are between 30 and 40 in Retreat, and the College is a quiet, restful place for us, a link between the Church life of old times and of our own day. I have been wandering through the Cathedral where S. Anselm taught, where S. Thomas died, where Hooker must have so often been, where Laud had to prepare for the martyrdom of the later days.

We are to say Evensong in an hour's time, and then I shall be hard at work till Friday morning. . . .

In September, 1877, Randall went to Dublin to conduct the first retreat that had been arranged for priests of the Church of Ireland. The retreat was held with the sanction of Dr. Trench, the Archbishop of Dublin, at Lisaniskea, a pleasant house at Blackrock belonging to a lady who was connected with the Archbishop's family, and who was on the most intimate and affectionate terms with him. Randall stayed a night at Chester on the journey, where he made a delightful visit to the cathedral and met Dean Howson, 'who wrote with Conybeare the Travels of S. Paul.' He reported further to Mrs. Randall that on arrival at Dublin he was met at the Quay by Miss Trench and the Archbishop's son, and he described Lisaniskea as 'one of the most lovely spots which you can imagine, and one as perfect for a Retreat.'

Randall was greatly interested and impressed by what he saw in Dublin. There was much earnest and orthodox piety among the members of the Church of Ireland, 'still the real spirit of Religion from all that I hear, is with the Roman Catholics, and they seem a very remarkably religious people.' 'The Bell of the Roman churches is always going, and there is, I am told, a marvellous and simple devotion among these people.'

'It seems,' he wrote,' as if a marvellous blessing was resting on the Retreat. It is so strange in Ireland to have a body of such earnest and really Catholic Priests to deal with. I never was at a Retreat where the Daily Hours have been said with such earnestness. It must be wrong to think of the Church here as being sapless, lifeless, helpless. The Spirit of God, and the Life of our dear Lord, is stirring in it.'

Fourteen priests attended the retreat, the services of which were held in a little chapel belonging to the house. On the first evening it was found on arrival at the chapel for Compline, that an attempt had been made to burn it down. The books had been piled in the middle of the floor, and set fire to, with the aid of a bottle of petroleum.

On Randall's return home, a very gracious letter came from Dr. Trench:

Let me thank you for the wisdom--since all bear witness to the wisdom--with which you guided your course thro' difficult and dangerous passages, where it would have been only too easy on this first occasion to bring all to grief. I am sorry that I was not at home to have thanked you in person, and so a little renewed and quickened the memory of the days which are no more. I have requested my son to put himself at your service.

About a month later Randall was amazed to receive a letter from the Archbishop in which he was asked to consider as unwritten and withdrawn the commendation previously given to the retreat. It had come to the Archbishop's knowledge that three or four of the priests in retreat had made their confessions. The result was that a considerable Protestant commotion arose, which ended in an acrimonious discussion at the Dublin Synod. In the following May the Archbishop censured Randall in a public speech.

Randall did not fail to make an admirable defence of what he had done: here is a letter he wrote to the Archbishop:

Nov. 13, 1877


It never would have occurred to me as possible that you should wish me to refuse to hear the confession of any one who could not quiet his own conscience, and who came to me for the benefit of absolution and ghostly counsel and advice. The Church leaves her ministers no option, as it seems to me, in such a case. They must allow all distressed souls to open their griefs, and I cannot think that you would say that the time of a Retreat should form an exception to this Rule. It is rather precisely one of those times when hearts are likely to be deeply stirred and consciences to be awakened. It is, therefore, most likely that at a Retreat some would feel themselves burthened with sin, and that to them the Church's Absolution would bring the peace which would enable them to serve God with a quiet mind. Confession is certainly not in any sense an essential element of a Retreat, as you justly say. Many go to a Retreat, as I have myself done, again and again, without making a Confession. But surely it would be simply cruelty to a troubled soul to refuse to use a part of the ministry of reconciliation through which the soul might be brought back to God through Christ. At the Retreat at Cuddesdon, at which I was present with your Grace, Confessions were made, and I believe with the knowledge of the Bishop.

Certainly confessions were also received at the two Retreats which I conducted for Bishop Hamilton, and the Saintly Bishop both made his own confessions, and urged those nearest and dearest to him to make theirs. There can be no need for me to remind your Grace of what the long line of the greatest teachers in the Church of England and of Ireland (including your own Archbishop Bramhall and Bishop Taylor) have written upon the blessing and benefit of Confession and Absolution. I am utterly at a loss to find any conceivable reason why those benefits should be refused during a Retreat, any more than at any other time, to a penitent who says he needs them. At this particular Retreat not one word was said, as far as I can remember, either in Public or in Private, to exhort or persuade those present to make a Confession. The subject was not once mentioned. Confession, of course, formed no part of the plan of the Retreat. I think that most of those present came to me for advice. Three or four, I think, asked me to receive their confessions. I could not have refused this. I think that I should have been false to our Blessed Lord, Who has committed to me the ministry of reconciliation, if I had refused. I cannot think that you would have had me refuse. You know too well what the needs and sorrows and dangers of a soul are to have refused what aid could be given. It grieves me much to think that you have been distressed, but now that you know all, I hope that all real cause for distress is removed.

Randall, as the Vicar of All Saints', was a very remarkable and dominating personality. Slightly built and somewhat below the medium height, his fine face set out by hair worn rather long, his dignity of bearing made him always a very impressive figure. He was as much a great gentleman as a distinguished ecclesiastic. His carriage and pair was a familiar sight in Clifton. He entertained largely at his comfortable house in Beaufort Road. His butcher's bill for the Festival week would sometimes be as much as £40. He was as strong and militant a Conservative as he was a Catholic. It was said that he could not only preach a political sermon, but was even equal to composing a political meditation. He was a most admirable after-dinner speaker, and it was in consequence of this, as well as his political activities, that he received the great honour of being elected President of the Dolphin Society in 1890. [Founded in 1749 to commemorate Edward Colston. The Society holds a dinner on Colston Day, and also attends a service in the cathedral. When Randall was selected to preach at this service, the cathedral authorities refused to allow him to do so, and the service was held that year in S. Mary Redcliffe. The collection for the Charities of the Society made by Randall as President amounted to £1,602.]

At the Christmas parties he gave to the children of the congregation, he would entertain them with a talk which might have served as a first-class variety turn, and would have enraptured a Coliseum audience. He used to take a letter of the alphabet, G or P or D, and make every sort of ridiculous use of it, and every sort of pun. The effect was extraordinarily good as he stood among the children in his cassock, probably made in Paris, never more magnificently dignified, and at the same time so irresistibly amusing.

The Bishop of Truro has very well defined the progress of the Catholic Revival as a gradual learning to hold fast to what East and West hold in common. [Anglo-Catholic Congress Report, 1920, p. 101.] Randall, like others of his generation, was perhaps not completely aware of all that is involved in this programme. There was no reservation of the Holy Sacrament at All Saints', though Randall was passionately convinced of the truth of our Lord's Real Presence under the outward signs of the Sacrament, and of the duty of adoring Him therein. Mr. Butler of Wantage wrote in 1848 to Mr. Keble: 'How keenly one begins to feel the absolute necessity, if we are to get on farther, of a regular and so to speak commonplace system of confession,' but later on in his ministry he seems never to have 'expected confession to become familiar to the mass of his people.' [Life, pp. 69, 182.] Randall desired that confession should be known to everybody as part of the ordinary system of the Church, and while he did not insist on confession, only those who used it were really in complete sympathy with his teaching. Randall could write, 'It is not right to invoke the Saints '; while Mr. Stuckey Coles always defended the invocation of the saints in hymns and private prayers. Dr. Neale did not expect even his daughters to receive Communion fasting, and while Randall was very strict on this matter of ecclesiastical discipline, it does not seem ever to have entered into his mind that an ecclesiastical discipline at least as ancient and universal forbids priests to be married after ordination.



I first came into contact with Randall through his first All Saints' curate, 'Tommy' Bowles, who had helped him in the spade work of digging up the hard soil of Clifton. Randall always spoke of Bowles with the warmest affection and gratitude.

I found a letter from Mr. Bowles on my dressing-table at the Vicarage of S. Philip and S. James, Oxford, on a weekday evening in Lent, 1891. I had gone up to preach a course of Lent sermons. It was a very cold winter, and that, I think, was the evening on which they drove a coach-and-four down the middle of the frozen river from Oxford to Ifney. Bowies' note told me that Randall was in sudden need of clerical help. He knew that I had resigned my curacy at All Saints', Margaret Street, and he asked me to go to Randall's assistance. 'It will be,' he said, 'an immense advantage and privilege for you to gain his friendship.' I had arranged to spend Easter at Shepton Beauchamp with Stuckey Coles where the snow drifts still lay under some of the hedges on Easter Day, but I went down to see Randall in the late spring. He was alone in his large and well-ordered house. A very comfortable house with no sort of luxury about it. Exactly the right kind of house for a dignified ecclesiastic with a comfortable income. The whole family was away and I have always looked back on our tête-à-tête dinner as one of the most delightful experiences of my life.

I had won Randall's heart at once--not through any merit or charm of my own--but owing to the fact that I had lived for five years in his old Rectory at Lavington, and that I loved Lavington as much as he did. Being always parochially minded, I had gone about a good deal among his old flock before I went to Oxford, and it was like cold water to a thirsty man to hear news of the Challens, the Tribes, the Lakers, the Howicks, and old Todman who had played cricket with Cardinal Manning. Better than this, I had had a pony at Lavington and had followed the hounds and ridden all over the downs and the Rother valley. 'When you come here,' said Randall, 'we will ride together,' and then he told me the most delightfully interesting things about the great ecclesiastics of the days which are past. For he had been in the intimate confidence of Bishop Wilberforce and had often been present at 'cabinet councils' of bishops.

For example, he told me, what I believe very few people know, that there had been proposals among some of the bishops to adopt mitres while Wilberforce was still Bishop of Oxford. Several mitres from some Roman Catholic furnisher were sent down to Cuddesdon for the inspection of the bishops who were assembled there. They were all, of course, of the exaggerated bulbous and lofty Renaissance type and the butler arranged them in the hall on the table where the hats were usually kept. At the end of a long morning's session, the bell rang for luncheon. The bishops emerged from the library and were confronted by the mitres. There was a long silence and then Bishop Ellicott of Gloucester and Bristol walked forward to the table. Doctor Ellicott was a spare and shrivelled man with grey side whiskers. He had met with a serious railway accident which had somewhat affected his bearing and gait. He was dressed, of course, in apron and gaiters. He put one of the mitres on his head and turning round faced his brother bishops with a solemn face. There was a deep groan and an emphatic 'No.' So the use of mitres was restricted to teaspoons and carriage panels until Bishop King began to wear a Gothic one in the Diocese of Lincoln more than thirty years after. In a letter of 1862, however, Randall reported to his wife that the Bishop of Honolulu 'goes out to his diocese with a mitre, a Pastoral staff, and a cope.'

Nothing impressed me more in this conversation than Randall's devotion and loyalty to his predecessor, Manning. It always affected his estimate of Manning's great contemporary, Cardinal Newman.

The impression of Randall I gained from his former curates was of a great personage for whom they had a profound reverence, of whom they stood somewhat in awe, and whose 'tyranny' provided them with a series of funny stories. I have heard Mr. Hanbury-Tracy in later years tell a string of these stories at the Dean's dinner table and reduce the Dean and Mrs. Randall to helpless laughter.

Bristol is a quiet, old-fashioned city. It is a great city, but when I was living in Clifton its streets on weekdays looked like London on Sunday afternoons. Clifton is an extraordinarily beautiful suburb on the downs above the gorge of the Avon. There is a strong strain of 'Cranford' there. Bath is a little more worldly. Cheltenham, thanks to Miss Beale, is a little more progressive. But in Clifton, in addition to the priest's normal work against the world, the flesh, and the devil, Randall had to try to lead Miss Pole, Mrs. Forrester, the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson, and dear Miss Matty along Tractarian paths.

He started with a strong band of sympathizers, among whom were many temporary residents in Clifton for the education of their children. People soon began to follow him and settle round him, but it was a hard task to move the conservatism of Clifton itself, trained as it had been in unbending Puritanism.

The small parish of All Saints' has one short street of humble persons and for the rest is inhabited by professional and business men, retired officers, and clergymen. Among all these people the clergy of All Saints' were expected to do house-to-house visiting on Lavington lines. There was, generally speaking, nothing that these people desired less than pastoral visits from the clergy of All Saints', whom most of them regarded as 'setters forth of strange gods.' As late as 1893 Henry Bromby, Dean Randall's successor, would burst out laughing, and say, 'Really I never knew anything like it; these people all seem to think that I hold a religion peculiar to myself.' One day Randall met one of his assistant priests in the street, I think it was Tracy. 'How have you been getting on with your visiting this afternoon?' said Randall. 'I have not been admitted to a single house,'said his curate. Randall laughed. 'Neither have I,' he said; 'let us drop it for to-day and go for a walk on the downs.' There were, of course, delightful exceptions to this, and there gradually grew up a happy congregation like a large family party among whom it was a joy to visit, and the kindness and charm of whose hospitality remains a sunny memory.

Clifton College represented a third element very little felt in Clifton itself, an element of exceedingly latitudinarian culture. The stiff Tractarian teaching of All Saints' would be anathema to Dr. Percival and Dr. Wilson, and it was not until the later days of Canon Bromby and the times of the present Vicar, Canon Gillson, that the middle wall of partition between the Liberal College and the Anglo-Catholic church on the edge of its domain began to be broken down.

I soon found that Mr. Bowles had been right, and that it was a great advantage and privilege for a young man to have Randall's friendship. I also soon felt the Czar in him. I arrived at Clifton in September and at the Festival in November one of the preachers, Mr. Ridgeway, of Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, fell ill and could not preach. The Vicar, the day before, said to the new curate, 'You must take his place; your subject will be "The Humility of the Saints." I will send you down some books in the morning with marks in them for your guidance, and I will look in at five to see how you are getting on.' So I worked away all day at a sermon on S. Paul's words, 'In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing,' and at five the Vicar came to my rooms and passed the stuff, and at eight I preached the sermon. I have a grateful memory about this incident. A man was in the congregation who had a violent antipathy to the practice of confession, to which in passing the sermon referred. Thinking that I was Mr. Ridgeway, he approved of what I said. Some time afterwards he let me prepare his boy for confirmation, and I advised the boy to get his father to help him to prepare his first confession. He did so, and on the night after the First Communion the father came into my rooms and said, 'Thank you for what you have done for the boy; if I had made my own confession I should have been a better man.'

At the following Christmas time the Czar got an attack of sciatica, and sent me a message to say that I must be prepared to preach on Christmas morning if he could not. I did not find it easy to prepare without the stimulus of expecting to have to preach, but I tried my best and came into Mattins with something ready. The Vicar was there lying at full length on the choir seats wrapped up in a rug.

'I am so glad you are better,' said I, 'and that you will preach.' 'I do not know that I can preach,' said the Vicar, 'you must still be prepared.' After Mattins we all came back into the vestry, the Vicar cheerful and obviously much better. As we returned to the choir for High Mass I said, 'You are going to preach, Vicar?' 'I have no idea. I have no idea. You must be ready.' It was a great relief to me when after the Incarnatus I saw the Vicar unwind himself slowly from his rugs and proceed majestically to the pulpit where he preached admirably.

He was extraordinarily kind and encouraging to me, never stinting praise if he felt it was deserved. I soon began lecturing in the Parish Hall, and I owe the good start of what afterwards became a big piece of work to his coming to the lectures, taking the chair, and speaking kind words. Occasionally a groom would arrive in my room after breakfast and say, 'Mr. Randall will be glad if you will ride with him, sir, at eleven.' He knew all the best grass rides round Clifton and liked riding very fast when he got on to grass. He talked the whole time in an interesting way. Being very shortsighted, I had to keep a sharp look-out during these canters, while perhaps bending an attentive ear to what the Vicar was saying about the Chalcedonian theology as we thundered along.

The Vicar soon observed one of the blemishes of my behaviour in church. Like the Bishop of Colombo, I always genuflect on the wrong knee. We pulled up while walking on the downs one evening and the Vicar put me through a genuflexion drill, genuflecting himself with great rapidity and neatness, no doubt to the admiration of the citizens of Bristol taking their evening walk.

The ritual at All Saints' was carried out in the most careful detail. We priests made our reverences to the altar in line and were made to study the pattern of the pavement in choir in order to ensure each drawing up on his appointed spot. New curates used to say that the first words Mr. Richards, the admirable ceremoniarius, said to them on their arrival was, 'There is a lozenge in the centre of the choir.' Prebendary Denison tells a story of Mr. Kempe who was curate of All Saints' in 1872. 'Mr. Kempe,' said Randall to him in the vestry after a service, 'will you return to the choir with me? I have something to say to you.' Whereupon they returned to the choir, and Randall pointed to the lozenge. 'The rule of All Saints' is that you stand on that lozenge. I observed that you were a little to the right of it.' Kempe thanked him, and they returned to the vestry. Then Kempe said: 'Mr. Randall, will you come with me to the choir?' So off they went again. Kempe pointed to the lozenge and said: 'You see that lozenge, Mr. Randall? Well, I give that lozenge my notice.'

This accuracy and attention to detail was illustrated by every aspect of the church, its windows, furniture, vestments, vessels, as well as its services. It was perhaps a little too well-ordered and complete. Stuckey Coles used to say very improperly, that he always longed to break one of the stained-glass windows. The length of the services was to me very trying. The Vicar's capacity for spending hours in church seemed boundless. He would arrive early in church, celebrate very slowly, remain on for choral Mattins, and go back after Mattins into the Lady Chapel and say Terce aloud there. In the end he would walk slowly back to a breakfast long kept warm for him by the dining-room fire.

I imagine All Saints' was the last parish church in England in which daily Mattins as well as daily Evensong was sung and the Litany sung every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. I used to feel the early mornings with the long celebrations followed by Choral Mattins and Terce, day after day, rather heavy and exhausting, but such an idea never crossed the Vicar's mind.

The choirboys were in two grades, the boarders and the day boys of the choir school. The boarders were the better behaved. They were very orderly on the whole. 'Boys,' said Randall, 'I heard coughing to-day; you must control it. It is very infectious; if a boy coughs in choir, twenty members of the congregation cough. If a man coughs in choir, a hundred members of the congregation cough. If the Vicar coughs, all the members of the congregation cough.' He had an irritable throat one evening and apologized for it to the choir afterwards.

Randall was away from Clifton during August and September, sometimes taking a house in Wales and entertaining a huge party of visitors, besides his own immediate family. He would arrange long driving tours in a brake, staying in the best hotels, and giving his guests an excellent time. Sometimes he would travel abroad, finding immense delight in the scenery and the churches. In my day we curates had four Sundays for holidays, owing to my saying I would not remain if I had less; till then the curates had to be content with three.

Nobody ever had a more profound belief in the mind and mission of the Church of England, or a more real compassion for those who could not read its history altogether as he did; but this did not result in the somewhat schismatic temper we sometimes see inspiring a devotion to the use of Sarum. Randall felt that Anglicans have a right to draw upon as much of the devotional treasure of Western Christianity as they desire.

His use was the Prayer Book of 1662, enriched, so far as he felt it allowable to enrich it, with the treasures of the Latin Mass and Breviary, but he had a very clear view as to where such enrichments ought to stop.

Randall was never wholly convinced that the Ornaments Rubric carried the use of incense. He was intensely alive to the fact that incense is one of the most expressive adjuncts to Catholic worship and his whole soul yearned to use it. But he never did. He bought a big square box of incense during his Clifton days and it always stood in his study, ready to be taken to church if the Vicar could be entirely convinced, but he never was. When he went to Chichester the box went with him to the study at the Deanery. When he resigned and went first to London and afterwards to Bournemouth, the box was still his companion. It was in his bedroom at the end. Now dilapidated and time-stained, the old friends recognized it when they looked down at his dead face.


For nearly twenty years of Randall's life as Vicar of All Saints' there is no doubt that he was immensely distressed at the attitude of the bishop of the diocese towards himself and his parish. His father had been the right-hand man of the foremost ecclesiastic of his day, and all his life Randall himself had been in intimate and affectionate relation with many whose reputation was very high indeed in the Church. It was to him intensely galling that he was not allowed to preach in the cathedral of Bristol where his father had held a canon's stall, that his curates were unlicensed, and that no confirmation might take place in his church. Again and again Liddon wrote him excellent advice: 'Dear friend, why do you trouble about the Bishop of G. and B.? If he lets you alone, that is all you can expect, and I should add in the actual circumstances, all that you should wish.' 'The only person who needs compassion is the poor bishop himself.' 'If I were you, I should think cheaply of preaching in Bristol cathedral. If you are not allowed to do so, I can only say--so much the worse for the cathedral. It is, I suppose, notorious--even among cathedrals--for general religious and spiritual uselessness; and your exclusion is in keeping with its general reputation.' But Randall was not to be consoled. 'Oh! it is so sad,' he wrote to the Bishop of Newcastle, [Dr. E. R. Wilberforce.] 'to come back here and find myself shut out from all Diocesan Work, and treated like a sort of Ecclesiastical Leper. It is often almost more than I can bear, and makes me long to escape from this Diocese.'

The first sign of a change of attitude on the part of Dr. Ellicott came in 1887, when he wrote a letter (which called forth Dr. Liddon's most caustic sarcasm) requesting Mr. Randall to take the oath of canonical obedience to himself in the presence of the archdeacon. Nothing further happened at the time, but two years later, in 1889, the Bishop issued licences for the curates at All Saints', and withdrew from the Diocesan Archives the famous letter of October 14, 1872. On March 14, 1891, he wrote as follows to the Vicar:


It gives me pleasure to offer you the Hon. Canonry in Bristol Cathedral now vacant by the death of Canon Jackson. It is a slight recognition of your long, earnest, and devoted labours at All Saints'.

With kind regards,

Very sincerely yours,


The change of attitude on the Bishop's part was as complete as it was sudden. He wrote again and again to Randall with the utmost cordiality, he did his part towards making him Dean of Chichester, and when he appointed Mr. Bromby to succeed him at All Saints', it was at Randall's suggestion.

Randall himself was very greatly rejoiced that at last he was no longer ostracized in the diocese. He felt as Newman did, when he was made a cardinal; 'the cloud is lifted from me for ever.' [Ward, The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman, II, p. 446.] When he went to the cathedral church as a canon for the memorial service to the Duke of Clarence, his reception was something of a triumph. Everyone was delighted that so valiant a priest and so distinguished a citizen of Bristol should at last be on terms of friendship and loyalty with his official chief.

The Bishop of Lincoln wrote to Randall:

I know nothing about the Archbishop's judgement. I pray for Love and Faith and Wisdom and Charity and Courage--but it is trying sometimes to be accused and harassed in this way, when one's loyalty should command a trusted liberty. But I ought to remember your long patience, dear Friend, and I rejoice in your reward. It is a great fact for the Church to be thankful for, and to thank you for.

My love and blessing.

Ever your affec.


The Bishop of Chichester [Dr. Richard Durnford, Bishop of Chichester, 1870-95.] wrote:

I am truly glad that your Bishop has come round and recognized your principles and your sincerity.

Here is a letter from Canon Body:

Easter Monday, 1891.


How glad I am to salute you thus. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read you had been installed into a Canonry at Bristol, but I was rejoiced. It is a tardy and poor recognition of your great work for the Church of England and in her for Our Lord and His Church, but it is a recognition and one which makes one say, 'This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.' I am glad, more glad than I can say, and how thankful your dear people must be.

I hope you have had an Easter full of blessing. Also that you are well.

Please tell Mrs. and Miss Randall how I share their joy in this recognition of your work and worth. Please don't be angry with me for saying I at all events owe you a great debt.



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